Monday, July 22, 2019

U.K. warns Iran of ‘serious consequences’ for seizing oil tanker

 Also a war of images

From NY Times by By David D. Kirkpatrick and Stephen Castle

Britain on Saturday threatened Iran with “serious consequences” for seizing a British-owned oil tanker the previous evening as the government warned ships to avoid the crucial shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz.

The British government said in a statement after an emergency meeting that it had “advised U.K.
shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period.”

The crisis has caught Britain at a singularly vulnerable moment.
Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to resign on Wednesday.
A leadership contest within the governing Conservative Party to determine her successor has all but paralyzed the government.
And now the uncertainty about Britain’s internal direction is compounding the problem of forming a response to Iran’s seizure of the tanker.

The British defense minister, Penny Mordaunt, said in a television interview on Saturday that the ship had been intercepted in Omani, not Iranian, waters and called the seizure “a hostile act.” By Saturday afternoon, Britain had summoned the Iranian ambassador to register its protest, and a second emergency cabinet meeting was set to begin.

The capture of the tanker — two weeks after British forces impounded an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar — sharply escalates a crisis between Iran and the West after three months of rising tensions that last month brought the United States within minutes of a military strike against targets in Iran.
A fifth of the world’s crude oil supply is shipped from the Persian Gulf through the narrow Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran, and oil prices spiked sharply on Friday even before the British warning.

But the next moves in the showdown over the tanker are likely to turn on the outcome of the British leadership contest, and the favorite, Boris Johnson, a flamboyant former mayor of London and former foreign minister, is famously unpredictable.

source : SPGlobal

He has said during his campaign that he stands with the other European powers in their wish to avoid a confrontation with Iran.
But Mr. Johnson has also risen through his party railing against Europe and has sought closer ties to President Trump, who set the current cycle of confrontation in motion by attempting to squeeze Iran into renegotiating a 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.

That has increased speculation that the clash over the tanker may move Britain out of its current opposition to Mr. Trump over his feud with Iran.
Britain has so far stood with the other European powers seeking to defy the president and preserve the accord.

“There has to come a moment where the British government, and maybe France and Germany ask, ‘Is it really worth fighting Trump on all these fronts?’” said Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, a London research institute.

Setting the stage for a prolonged standoff, Iranian news agencies reported on Saturday that all 23 crew members of the British-flagged tanker would be held onboard in Iran’s Bandar Abbas Port during a criminal investigation of the ship’s actions.

None of the crew members is British or American; their nationalities include Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino, the ship’s owner said in a statement.

A spokesman for Iran’s powerful Guardian Council, which oversees major foreign policy decisions, sought on Saturday to justify the seizure as “reciprocal action” after British forces had impounded the Iranian tanker near Gibraltar.

“The rule of reciprocal action is well known in international law,” the spokesman, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, said, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.

But other Iranian authorities on Saturday added different new rationales for the seizure of the ship, saying for the first time that the vessel had been involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and that the tanker had ignored distress calls.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is in charge of Iranian naval activities in the Persian Gulf, had said on Friday that it had seized the ship for deviating from traffic patterns and polluting the waters.
The Revolutionary Guards had not mentioned a fishing boat.

 Vessel Tracking Satellite Data provided by Spire Maritime, a division of Spire Global.

Stena Bulk, the owner of the ship, Stena Impero, said the tanker had been in “full compliance with all navigation and international regulations” when it was intercepted.

In Washington on Friday, Mr. Trump called Iran “nothing but trouble.” Mr. Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, “We’ll be working with the U.K.” Referring in vague terms to the close American alliance with Britain, he added, “We have no written agreement, but I think we have an agreement that is longstanding.”

United States Central Command, which oversees Middle East military operations, repeated in a statement late Friday that it was working on a “multinational effort” under the name Operation Sentinel to police the shipping routes.

The operation “will enable nations to provide escort to their flagged vessels while taking advantage of the cooperation of participating nations for coordination and enhanced maritime domain awareness and surveillance,” the statement said.

But it emphasized that Washington would not shoulder the burden alone: “While the United States has committed to supporting this initiative, contributions and leadership from regional and international partners will be required to succeed.”

France in a statement on Saturday called on Iran to respect “the principle of freedom of shipping in the Gulf.” Germany strongly condemned Iran’s actions as “unjustifiable.”
“Another regional escalation would be very dangerous” and “undermine all ongoing efforts to find a way out of the current crisis,” the German government warned in a statement.

The back-and-forth between Iran and the West has already included the imposition of sweeping new American economic sanctions.
Iran has responded with the calibrated resumption of an Iranian nuclear energy program that the West fears might lead to a nuclear bomb.

The United States and Britain have accused Iran of sabotaging six tankers in a tacit threat to gulf shipping routes.
The United States and Iran have each said it had shot down an unpiloted surveillance drone flown by the other side.

In a reminder that each minor collision risks the explosion of a more violent confrontation, Mr.
Trump last month ordered a missile strike in retaliation for the Iranian downing of the American drone.
He ultimately called the strike off only minutes before the launch.
Mr. Trump said the next day that he had concluded the loss of life from a missile strike would have been disproportionate to the shooting down of a drone.
But he later threatened the “obliteration” of parts of Iran if it targeted “anything American.”

At the core of the confrontation with the West is the Trump administration’s attempt to rip up and renegotiate the 2015 accord, which the United States and other world powers had reached with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Having pulled the United States out of the deal last year, the Trump administration added comprehensive sanctions in May that were intended to block all of Iran’s oil exports, the lifeblood of its economy.
Iranian officials denounced the new penalties as “economic warfare.”

Iran has sought to push back against all the major powers, forcing them to feel some cost for their effective default on the promises 2015 accord as a result of Mr.
Trump’s sanctions.
That set the backdrop for a parallel clash with Britain that led to the seizure of the tanker.

Two weeks ago, the British military helped impound the Iranian tanker off Gibraltar on the suspicion that it was delivering oil to Syria in violation of European Union embargoes.

Iranian officials called the seizure of their ship an act of piracy and accused Washington of masterminding the capture as part of its pressure campaign.
Officers of the Revolutionary Guards threatened retaliation against a British ship.
Iranian boats sought unsuccessfully to stop one a few days later, but an accompanying British warship drove them away.

Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, on Saturday charged that Iran’s seizure had violated international law but said that Britain had followed proper legal procedures in stopping the Iranian tanker, Grace 1, near Gibraltar.

“Yesterday’s action in Gulf shows worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behavior after Gibraltar’s LEGAL detention of oil bound for Syria,” Mr.
Hunt wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.

“As I said yesterday our reaction will be considered but robust,” Mr. Hunt added.
“We have been trying to find a way to resolve Grace1 issue but WILL ensure the safety of our shipping.”

He added later that he had “expressed extreme disappointment” in a phone call with Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Recounting a conversation they had a week earlier, Mr. Hunt said that Mr. Zarif had said he sought de-escalation but that “they have behaved in the opposite way.”
“This has 2 be about actions not words,” Mr. Hunt said on Twitter.

Mr. Hunt is challenging Mr. Johnson in the runoff within the Conservative Party to become Britain’s next prime minister.
If Mr. Hunt loses, his role overseeing the standoff with Iran might keep him in the job for the immediate term in the interest of continuity.
But the results would also put a question mark over his standing and staying power, further complicating the British response.

The fate of the Iranian tanker impounded near Gibraltar is in the hands of the courts there, and an early release of the ship to mollify the Iranians would “look very weak,” said Michael Stephens of the Royal United Services Institute, an independent research center.

“I don’t think we are in a position where we have the luxury of backing down,” he added.

That, in turn, adds to the pressure on the nuclear accord.
Britain has collaborated with the other European powers in seeking to preserve the deal, even joining efforts to set up an alternative trading platform that would allow Iran to evade the American sanctions.

If Britain joins the United States in re-imposing sanctions on Iran, that would all but snuff out any hope of saving the 2015 accord.

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the British parliamentary foreign affairs committee, wrote on Twitter that “the hiatus in power” in Britain had lasted too long.
“We are being tested by friends and enemies.
We need leadership,” he added.

Links :

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Corto Maltese, "Corto Marin"

Corto Maltese is a “cult” character of the best of the European graphic novel genre, but also a veritable 20th century literary legend.
He’s a traveler, an ironic sailor who combines Mediterranean looks and character traits with Anglo-Saxon culture.
Corto, which in Spanish means “fast”, was created in 1967 by the great Venetian illustrator
Hugo Pratt.
Corto is an anti-hero who prefers freedom and imagination to wealth.
He’s a modern-day Ulysses who takes us along on his travels to the most fascinating places in the world.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Hunting bubbles : news from the deep

Visiting the seafloor and becoming mesmerized by some of the amazing sights the team has experienced via ROV SuBastian while studying methane seeps on the U.S. Pacific Northwest margin.

On June 29, 2019, Florida scientists tagged a deep-sea shark from a submersible, a historic first on a research expedition led by OceanX, the Cape Eleuthera Institute and shark expert Dean Grubbs of Florida State University.
At a depth of more than 1,700 feet off the coast of Eleuthera, the team encountered several bluntnose sixgill sharks, including this large female, about 16 feet long.
Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History filmed the encounter.

A giant barrel jellyfish, similar to the size of a human, was spotted off the coast of Cornwall by biologist and wildlife presenter Lizzie Daly.
She came across the sea creature when she was diving near Falmouth on Saturday as part of her Wild Ocean Week campaign, which aims to celebrate our marine wold and raise funds for the Marine Conservation Society.
Barrel jellyfish are the largest species of jellyfish found in British waters.
see CNN

Dr. Nathan Robinson (@ceibahamas), alongside Dr. Edie Widder (@team_orca_), captured the first-ever footage of the giant squid in US waters.
This is only the second time the giant squid has been filmed in the wild (the first time was from #alucia, in Japan, 2012).
But sighting the #giantsquid wasn't the only notable event that day...
Hear how they could've lost it all. Mission and scientific research by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, the Cape Eleuthera Institute, and the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (Team ORCA). 
see CNN

Friday, July 19, 2019

Norway (NHS) layer update in the GeoGarage platform

163 nautical raster charts updated

Entire Bailiwick's territorial waters quadruple

An approximate rendering of the change to the territorial waters

From BB

The three islands of the Bailiwick of Guernsey will see the size of their territorial seas quadrupled.

From 23 July, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark will control 12 nautical miles (nm) of sea, the maximum distance permissible by international law.

 Fishing limits extended from 3 Nm to 12 Nm in Bailiwick waters

This means they have greater "control" of the area, including both legislative and law enforcement authority.
In particular, the change will increase the island's ability to "manage and conserve" their fish stocks.

Nautical charts of the Channel islands with the GeoGarage platform (UKHO top / SHOM bottom)

A spokeswoman for the States said the extension would bring necessary "clarity" about the status of the seas in the context of the UK's intention to withdraw from European fishing rules, following its exit from the EU.

The extension is a "unilateral act" made for the Bailiwick by the UK in line with international law.

Deputy Al Brouard, a member of Guernsey's Policy & Resources Committee, said he was "delighted" with the result, arguing that would bring the island greater control "in line with international norms".

One nm equates to 1,852m or 6,076ft, meaning 12nm is approximately 13 miles or 22km.
The territorial limit would be smaller wherever the distance between the islands and another party - France or Jersey - is less than 24 nm.

EEZ (200 Nm) with the GeoGarage platform

Links :

Thursday, July 18, 2019

U.S. Navy and NASA collaborate on Augmented Reality displays

Image courtesy USN / NASA

From Maritime Executive 

Researchers with the U.S. Navy are working with NASA to develop a heads-up display that could be used in both the Navy's atmosphere diving suit and the space agency's new NASA Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) spacesuit.

 David Coan, extra vehicular activity lead for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center dives at the Aquarius Reef Base underwater habitat.donning a Kirby Morgan-37 helmet equipped with the Divers Augmented Vision Device Generation 1.0 heads-up display during the 23rd NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations in June 2019.

Scientists, engineers and industry partners of Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division are taking their heads-up-display technology, originally designed for diving, from seabed to space.
The Diver Augmented Vision Device (DAVD) is a high-resolution, see-through head-up display (HUD) installed in the face shield of a Kirby Morgan-37 dive helmet.
This system provides divers with high-resolution visual displays of everything from a top-down sonar view of the dive site to text messages, diagrams, photographs, and even augmented reality videos.

“This capability is game changing for divers who usually work in zero visibility conditions - it essentially gives them sight again through real time data and sonar,” said Allie Williams, DAVD team lead engineer.
“Even in good visibility conditions, the DAVD system allows for hands free information and less mental strain of trying to remember topside instructions.
The same benefits can be gained by astronauts as well – including better situational awareness, safety, and allowing them to be more effective in their missions.”

The DAVD development team from Panama City recently joined a team from the Johnson Space Center during the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) exercise at the Aquarius Reef Base underwater habitat in Key Largo.
The base is the only undersea laboratory of its kind in the world, and it gives a NASA with a training environment for space exploration by providing buoyancy comparable to walking on the moon or Mars. During NEEMO-23, NASA astronauts and technical personnel used the latest generation of the system to conduct training missions and test out the idea of using a similar system in their future Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) spacesuits during space exploration missions.

Dennis Gallagher, DAVD team project manager, emphasized the collaborative nature of the Panama City team's development process and the potential to learn more from collaboration with NASA. “You don’t achieve ‘warfighting dominance’ by taking 10 years to finally develop a rugged rotary dial phone,” said Gallagher.
“You achieve it by becoming the collaborator of choice with academia, federal labs, and industry using innovative and creative partnerships. This allows us to develop emerging technologies into new capabilities and solutions for the Warfighter at a significantly accelerated pace.”

Links :

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Will ships without sailors be the future of trade?

Introducing SEA-KIT™
the world's first truly Long-range, Long Endurance, Ocean Capable Autonomous Surface Vessel.

From BBC by Stav Dimitripoulos

On 7 May, customs officers in Ostend, Belgium, received a box of oysters from the UK.
The molluscs had been caught in Essex and transported to Belgium on a 12m (39ft) aluminium-hulled vessel, which traversed the English Channel with no humans on board.
It was the world's first unmanned commercial shipping operation.

The Sea-Kit's achievement was impressive but is there really a market for unmanned shipping?

The crewless boat was carefully watched by four people in a control centre in Tollersbury, Essex, headquarters of Hushcraft, the company behind the design and development of the craft.

The boat's minimalist payload was a box of local oysters

UK and Belgian coastguards also monitored the oysters' progress.
"You could actually listen to the waves hitting the boat," says Ben Simpson, Hushcraft's managing director.

It boasts a hybrid diesel engine, electrical generators, satellite links, CCTV and thermal cameras, an automatic identification system to warn approaching vessels of its position and more.

Onboard cameras and microphones feed information to the control centre


The boat was made by Sea-Kit, and the same vessel helped an international team of hydrographers, funded by the Japanese non-profit Nippon Foundation, win the $4m (£3.2m) Shell Ocean Discovery Xprize for advances in autonomously mapping the oceans.

Now Hushcraft wants Sea-Kit to be used for transporting cargo, hence mounting the 5kg box of oysters - a local delicacy - on to the vessel and sending it to Ostend.
But is there a market for it?
"The benefits are many," says Mr Simpson.
"You can send them around the world to do different jobs at a significantly reduced cost. Then, you don't have to have a galley, you don't have to have toilets. You can utilise space."

They are better for the environment as they can be electrically propelled, and since they can use smaller ports they can replace road transport and cut even more fumes, he says.

Ghost ships

For Lawrence Brennan, a retired US navy captain and adjunct professor of admiralty and maritime law at Fordham University School of Law, all these virtues of uncrewed cargo ships come with certain caveats.

Ships with no sailors mean no risk to human life from fires or other hazards at sea.
No-one needs to recruit staff, pay them, keep them trained or guard against unlicensed crew.
The boats can go anywhere.

But, in Prof Brennan's view, the first Achilles heel of unmanned shipping might be the very technology that created it.
A failure in communications between vessel and base will render it a ghost ship, hopelessly drifting without a soul on board, a hazard to its owners, the owners of its cargo, and the environment, he argues.

Get creative

"Unmanned ships may be stopped by pirates by disabling shots or damaging the ship's propeller and rudder," Prof Brennan continues.
Karolina Zwolak, head of the Navigation Section at the Institute of Navigation and Marine Hydrography of the Polish Naval Academy, contributed to the success of the oysters' voyage.
Part of her job was collision avoidance.
Dr Zwolak is already working on the Sea-Kit international team's next ambitious endeavour, which will be to sail across the Atlantic next year, but is aware of the technology's limitations
"When unexpected situations occur on board, human creativity, experience, and non-schematic thinking can solve the problem," she says.

So she does not see a revolution in the shipping industry in the near future.
"I just believe more and more tasks will be delegated on shore, using communication technology," she says.

From crew to office

For his part, Mr Simpson, who believes crewless short-sea transportation might not be a rarity in five years from now, says that problems such as the risk of piracy plague both manned and unmanned vessels.
He also thinks it is not economically sound to lay people off.
"Unmanned ships need to be built, maintained, and controlled. The people that would have been on the bridge of a manned vessel are now in the office," he maintains, adding that a lot of training will be involved in the transition.

The other obstacle is the law.
"The legal regime is decades, if not a century-and-a-half out of date," says Prof Brennan.
"As unmanned ships were never contemplated until recently, legislation says manning is essential for having a ship that is seaworthy, classified, and authorised to operate in national waters and on the high seas," he explains.

Legal catch-up

For self-navigating ships to crisscross the oceans free from legal constraints, an entirely new maritime legislation will have to be drawn up and embedded in national laws and international regimes, otherwise financiers will be frightened off.

Still, the international maritime community is going through such a frenzy of technological creativity, that for Dr Zwolak there will be a solution soon.
"Technology has always preceded law," she says.

Links :

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Galileo sat-nav system still without service

Galileo, the EU’s satellite navigation system, is currently affected by a technical incident related to its ground infrastructure.
The incident has led to a temporary interruption of the Galileo initial navigation and timing services, with the exception of the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) service.

From BBC by Jonathan Amos

Europe's satellite-navigation system, Galileo, remains offline.

The network suffered an outage on Friday due to what has been described as a "technical incident related to its ground infrastructure".

Engineers worked around the clock over the weekend but there is no update yet on when the service will resume.
The problem means all receivers, such as the latest smartphone models, will not be picking up any useable timing or positional information.

These devices will be relying instead on the data coming from the American Global Positioning System (GPS).
And depending on the sat-nav chip they have installed, cell phones and other devices might also be making connections with the Russian (Glonass) and Chinese (Beidou) networks.

Galileo is still in a roll-out, or pilot phase, meaning it would not yet be expected to lead critical applications.
"People should remember that we are still in the 'initial services' phase; we're not in full operation yet," a spokesperson for the European GNSS Agency (GSA) told BBC News.
"This is something that can happen while we build the robustness into the system. We have recovery and monitoring actions, and we are implementing them, and we are working 24/7 to fix this as soon as possible."

The GSA issued a notification on Thursday warning users that Galileo's signals might become unreliable.
An update was then sent out at 01:50 Central European Time on Friday to say that the service was out of use until further notice.

The search and rescue function on Galileo satellites that picks up the distress beacon messages from those at sea or up high mountains is said to be unaffected by the outage.

Is your phone using Galileo?
YES for iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 10/X
Discover if your phone is Galileo-enabled here 

What is Galileo?
  • A project of the European Commission and the European Space Agency
  • 24 satellites constitute a full system but it will also have spares in orbit
  • 24 spacecraft are in orbit today; two more will launch next year
  • Original budget was €3bn but will now cost more than three times that
  • Works alongside the US GPS, Chinese Beidou and Russian Glonass systems
  • Promises eventual real-time positioning down to a metre or less
Galileo is a multi-billion-euro project of the European Union and the European Space Agency.
The EU owns the system, and Esa acts as the technical and procurement agent.

There are currently 22 operational satellites in orbit (another two are in space but in testing), with a further 12 under construction with industry.
In addition to the spacecraft, Galileo relies on a complex ground infrastructure to control the network and monitor its performance.

A strong undercurrent can turn a quick dip into a life-threatening experience.
But help is on the way. when you call 112, Galileo’s added accuracy gets the emergency services exactly where they need to go, fast!
Galileo – European satellites saving lives.

Europe's alternative to GPS went "live" with initial services in December 2016 after 17 years of development.
The European Commission promotes Galileo as more than just a back-up service; it is touted also as being more accurate and more robust.

An outage across the entire network is therefore a matter of significant concern and no little embarrassment.

Since its launch in 1978, GPS has become integral to the functioning of all modern economies.
Usage goes far beyond just finding one's way through an unfamiliar city.
The system's timing function has now become ubiquitous in many fields, including in the synchronisation of global financial transactions, telecommunications and energy networks.

Links :

Monday, July 15, 2019

Australia (AHS) layer update in the GeoGarage platform

Australia (AHS) layer update in the GeoGarage platform :
10 nautical raster charts updated & 4 new charts added

The shape of the World, according to old maps

click on the image to enlarge

From Visual Capitalist by Iman Gosh

A Babylonian clay tablet helped unlock an understanding for how our ancestors saw the world.

Dating all the way back to the 6th century BCE, the Imago Mundi is the oldest known world map, and it offers a unique glimpse into ancient perspectives on earth and the heavens.

While this is the first-known interpretation of such a map, it would certainly not be the last.
Today’s visualization, designed by Reddit user PisseGuri82, won the “Best of 2018 Map Contest” for depicting the evolving shapes of man-made maps throughout history.

AD 150: Once Upon A Time in Egypt

In this former location of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy was the first to use positions of latitude and longitude to map countries into his text Geographia.
After these ancient maps were lost for centuries, Ptolemy’s work was rediscovered and reconstructed in the 15th century, serving as a foundation for cartography throughout the Middle Ages.

 Ptolemy World Map

1050: Pointing to the Heavens

The creation of this quintessential medieval T-and-O Beatine map is attributed not to an unknown French monk, but to the Spanish monk Beatus of Liébana.
Although it shows several continents—Africa, Asia, and Europe—its main objective was to visualize Biblical locations.
For example, because the sun rises in the east, Paradise (The Garden of Eden) can be seen pointing upwards and towards Asia on the map.

1154: The World Turned Upside Down

The Arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi made one of the most advanced medieval world maps for King Roger II of Sicily.
The Tabula Rogeriana, which literally translates to “the book of pleasant journeys into faraway lands”, was ahead of the curve compared to contemporaries because it used information from traveler and merchant accounts.
The original map was oriented south-up, which is why modern depictions show it upside down.

 Tabula Rogeriana upside-down

1375: The Zenith of Medieval Map Work

The Jewish cartographer Abraham Cresques created the most important map of the medieval period, the Catalan Atlas, with his son for Prince John of Aragon.
It covers the “East and the West, and everything that, from the Strait [of Gibraltar] leads to the West”.
Many Indian and Chinese cities can be identified, based on various voyages by the explorers Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville.

After this, the Age of Discovery truly began—and maps started to more closely resemble the world map as we know it today.

1489: Feeling Ptolemy and Polo’s Influences

The 15th century was a radical time for map-makers, once Ptolemy’s geographical drawings were re-discovered.
Henricus Martellus expanded on Ptolemaic maps, and also relied on sources like Marco Polo’s travels to imagine the Old World.
His milestone map closely resembles the oldest-surviving terrestrial globe, Erdapfel, created by cartographer Martin Behaim.
Today, it’s preserved at the Yale University archives.

1529: A Well-Kept Spanish Secret

The first ever scientific world map is most widely attributed to the Portuguese cartographer Diego Ribero.
The Padrón Real was the Spanish Crown’s official and secret master map, made from hundreds of sailors’ reports of any new lands and their coordinates.

 Map Diego Ribero 1529

1599: The Wright Idea

English mathematician and cartographer Edward Wright was the first to perfect the Mercator projection—which takes the Earth’s curvature into consideration.
Otherwise known as a Wright-Molyneux world map, this linear representation of the earth’s cylindrical map quickly became the standard for navigation.

1778-1832: The Emergence of Modern World Maps

The invention of the marine chronometer transformed marine navigation—as ships were now able to detect both longitude and latitude.
Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, a French geographer, was responsible for the 18th century’s highly accurate world maps and nautical charts.
His designs favored functionality over the decorative flourishes of cartographers past.

Finally, the German cartographer and lawyer Adolf Stieler was the man behind Stieler’s Handatlas, the leading German world atlas until the mid-20th century.
His maps were famous for being updated based on new explorations, making them the most reliable map possible.

Is There Uncharted Territory Left?

It is worth mentioning that these ancient maps above are mostly coming from a European perspective.

That said, the Islamic Golden Age also boasts an impressive cartographic record, reaching its peak partially in thanks to Muhammad al-Idrisi in the 11th century.
Similarly, Ancient Chinese empires had a cartographic golden age after the invention of the compass as well.

Does this mean there’s nothing left to explore today?
Quite the contrary.
While we know so much about our landmasses, the undersea depths remain quite a mystery.
In fact, we’ve explored more of outer space than we have 95% of our own oceans.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Why the 'Great Wave' has mystified art lovers for generations

From CNN by Dan Tham

A massive wave threatens to engulf three fishing boats, its foam crown extending like claws, menacing the rowers below.
It's an epic scene of human struggle and natural terror that dwarfs the sacred Mount Fuji just behind it.

This is "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai and one of the world's most iconic pieces of Asian art.

If this climactic moment seems ubiquitous -- think T-shirts, coffee mugs, laptop decals -- that's because it was designed to be.

The artwork is considered a fine, if somewhat hackneyed, example of "ukiyo-e," a genre of mass-produced Japanese woodblock prints that displayed everything from theater announcements to the most salacious of erotica.

Ukiyo-e prints were cheap to produce and widely distributed in Edo (today's Tokyo) between the 17th and 19th centuries.
As many as 5,000 impressions were made from the original woodblocks for "The Great Wave.
" Back then, the prints were sold for the price of a bowl of noodles.

By the time "The Great Wave" made its debut, in around 1830, Japan was flirting with the idea of ending more than 200 years of isolationism.
The story of growing foreign influence is evident in Hokusai's masterpiece -- the rich shade of blue used in the prints was imported from Europe.
Prussian blue, as it's commonly known, was a synthetic color created in the 18th century and prized for its depth and durability.

That Hokusai employed the hue as the principal actor in his oceanic drama suggests that he was depicting Japan on the cusp of change.
As much as the wave portends instability and danger, it also suggests possibility and adventure.

'Essence' of Japan

Hokusai spent most of his life in the riverside district of Sumida, Tokyo, where he adopted at least 30 pseudonyms and, perhaps, just as many different styles.
"The Great Wave" was the first in his series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji," a virtuosic study of Japan's highest and most revered mountain.

The term "aizuri-e" refers to woodblocks made predominantly from blue inks.

"Many people view the painting as the very essence of Japanese culture," says Atsuko Okuda, chief curator of the Sumida Hokusai Museum in Japan.
"The simple and powerful composition of the mountain and the shape of the wave strikes right at the heart of the observer."

Observers famously included French Impressionists Edgar Degas and Claude Monet, as well as Dutch master Vincent van Gogh, who was enamored with "The Great Wave."
They were not alone: In the 1860s, the proliferation of ukiyo-e in Europe led to an artistic fascination with Japan in the West, known as "Japonisme."

The bold colors and outlines found in Van Gogh's "Courtesan (after Eisen)" shows the influence of Japanese woodblock prints.
Credit: Courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam/Vincent van Gogh Foundation

Yet, the woodblock prints weren't considered art in Japanese society during the Edo period, according to Yukiko Takahashi, the sixth-generation owner of the Takahashi Kobo publishing house.

"At some point, ukiyo-e was brought to foreign countries," says Takahashi, whose family has been making ukiyo-e for more than 150 years.
"We Japanese didn't realize how wonderful they were, because we took them for granted in our daily lives."

An endangered art

At Takahashi's workshop, craftsman Noriyasu Soda works on a replica of Hokusai's "Great Wave.
" He first dampens the "washi" paper, before applying paint and a small amount of rice glue to the woodblock to ensure that the colors stick.

Each side of any given block represents a different color that will be layered into the ukiyo-e.
This piece alone requires a black outline, various blues for the water, and shades of yellow and pink for the sky.

In the earlier stages of his career, Hokusai worked on a number of brightly colored illustrated books.

The process is painstaking and demands utmost precision.
Takahashi says it takes about a decade to become a true ukiyo-e "shokunin," or master craftsman, and that there are only 25 left in Tokyo today.

"We have to succeed in passing down this wonderful technique of ukiyo-e woodblock prints," she says.
"The craftsmen involved in this work are trying their best to teach these skills to the next generation."

The Great Plastic Wave Illustration
A reimagined version of Hokusai’s - ‘The Great Wave’ by Nic Mac, illustrative response to the issues regarding the record levels of Plastic in our oceans.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Canada (CHS) layer update in the GeoGarage platform

39 nautical raster charts updated & 3 new charts added

Is 5G a reality for Superyachts in 2019

From SuperYachtTechnology

5G is set to be ‘mainstream’ by 2019.
But what does 5G mean for superyachts?

5G has for a long time seemed like something far away in our technological future, often talked about but never given serious clout in the present.
Despite the excitement surrounding it, when predictions of 5G delivery were made there were seen as premature and unrealistic.
In a 2016 interview Richard McLaughlin, cofounder of marine WiFi solutions business Aigean Networks expressed how he had been convinced by claims of early 5G plans only for reality to fall short.
“I wasn’t sure Wi-Fi was going to be where it was at with 5G data plans coming along.
I was proven wrong.
Cellular hasn’t rolled out the big speed increases they’ve been promising.
They’re always a few years away,” he said.

Yachts spend over 80% of their time inshore

Now however, 5G is very much on its way and the possibilities it will bring seem to be endless.
At Qualcomm’s 2018 CES press conference, the company predicted that 2019 will be the year that 5G becomes mainstream for mobile (though others say 2020).
These bold claims are substantiated by the fact that the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an organisation which works to provide complete system specifications for cellular telecommunications network technologies, finalised its first 5G specs late last year.
Members of the 3GPP approved the suggested Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) specification, meaning commercial vendors now have the necessary guidelines from which they can start building products.
Director of technical marketing at Qualcomm Matt Branda backed this sentiment, saying: “This is really the step that enables vendors to start building equipment.”
The Standalone (SA) version, which will define the full user and control plane capability for 5G NR using the new 5G core network architecture, is due for completion in June.

3GPP have by no means been the only body committing resources and conducting in-depth research into 5G.
Various research bodies have looked into 5G and how it will affect different industries; NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks, which claims it has shaped the industry of wireless communication for the past 12 years) and GSMA (an organisation representing the interests of mobile operators worldwide) have both published papers on the topic.
In GSMA’s research paper, titled The 5G era: Age of boundless connectivity and intelligent automation, it recommends the new technology as “an opportunity for operators to move beyond connectivity and collaborate across sectors such as finance, transport, retail and health to deliver new, rich services.”
But what about the marine sector, barely mentioned in these papers?
How quickly will the 5G revolution benefit our superyachts?

 An UAV connected in 5G, flying over the world's leading yachting market in Monaco

When Superyacht Technology News contacted the GSMA to enquire about our industry, a representative said that its 5G specialists were not aware of any specific examples of how 5G connectivity would profit the maritime sector.
This is not to say that it won’t.
NGMN’s White Paper emphasises the importance of good-quality broadband access being available everywhere, surely including the remote locations frequented by yachts.
The authors describe how with 5G, the entire world’s internet expectations will be allowed to grow.
The minimum user data rate (expected at between 50 and 100 Mbps) will be delivered consistently across coverage areas, even at cell edges where speeds would have previously dropped.
This should allow superyachts to access these higher speeds for longer.
The NGMN White Paper also states how 5G is expected to be deployed for ultra-low-cost requirements, meaning coverage areas will be expanded to include underserved and underdeveloped areas.
This will surely mean that cheaper data plans will be available for yachts in previously unattainable places.

Although there seem to have been no 5G sea trials to date, in September last year Tallink, Telia, Ericsson and Intel announced the first public, live 5G network in Europe at the Port of Tallinn, Estonia.
This trial aimed to deliver 5G connectivity to the commercial passenger cruise ships and their passengers while in port.
Each Tallink cruise ship can carry as many as 2,000 passengers, so from the perspective of area to cover and number of devices onboard, superyachts have nothing on them.
With 5G connected to the on-ship WiFi network, those onboard the vessels could use this high-speed Internet connection during mooring and departure.

This solution used Ericsson’s 5G antenna integrated radio and baseband in conjunction with the Intel® 5G Mobile Trial Platform to transfer passenger data traffic along with data from the ship’s own information and communications systems to a millimetre wave, extending Telia’s mobile network to 5G.
So, it’s clear that achieving this level of connectivity would necessitate an infrastructure upgrade on most yachts.
As Dermot Crotty, Sales Manager at e3 Systems France & Italy joked, “Most yachts’ IT structures can’t support 4G speeds, never mind 5G!”
This kind of refit would no doubt be costly and time-consuming, but the long-term benefits would be worth it.

The Port of Hamburg is the testing ground for 5G, the next generation mobile standard that is set to transform communications.
After six months of preparation the project partners - Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), Deutsche Telekom and Nokia - have now launched a testbed that stretches across some 8,000 hectares of port area. 5G is seen as the communication standard of the future.
It is an entirely new network concept that combines terrestrial and mobile networks.
The testbed in the Port of Hamburg has primarily been set up to test 5G applications in an industrial environment.
The 5G trial programme in the Port of Hamburg forms part of a two-year research project.

Earlier this month, Deutsche Telekom, Nokia and the Hamburg Port Authority also announced that they will commence 5G testing in the busy Port of Hamburg.
As a major logistics hub but also a tourist attraction, the port will test a variety of use cases that place very different demands onto a 5G network.
The Port Authority wants to use 5G to manage traffic lights within the port area, as well as collecting and processing environmental measurement data in real-time.
Virtual reality applications will also be applied to monitor critical infrastructure such as water gates and construction areas to ensure safety in the port.
However, there are no reported plans to test it on the boats moored there.

Team New Zealand to use augmented reality, 5G during America's Cup

These port trials seem like they could be the gateway to future sea trials.
From a superyacht industry perspective, we certainly hope so.
After all, the potential damage caused to the industry if 5G does not develop at a similar speed within yachting could be serious.
It is likely that the difference between communicating on land and at sea would discourage a new generation from becoming owners, dampen the fun of the guests looking to charter out these superyachts and make working on a yacht a whole lot less appealing, with our dependence on and demand for connectivity on an upward spiral that shows no sign of stopping.

Luckily the superyacht sector is typically an early adopter of new technology, and with the sheer amount of money in the industry it tends to be true that when there is a will, there is a way.
It will be a challenge, but if ferries of 2,000 passengers a piece can achieve 5G connectivity then who is to say we can’t?
The pressure is on.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Amazon asks FCC for approval of Project Kuiper broadband satellite operation

Amazon began simply with the task of selling books over the internet.
Yet, CEO Jeff Bezos never intended to stop there and in the past 25 years to the present day the company has expanded its aspirations to cover novel concepts such as drone-based deliveries and flying warehouses.
Now, according to recent reports spotted by Geek Wire, Amazon intends to release a constellation of 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide internet access to underserved communities around the planet.
Digital Trends reports that the filings, for what Amazon terms “Project Kuiper,” were made with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency within the United Nations that is responsible for issues including satellite orbits.
According to an Amazon spokesperson: “Project Kuiper is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. "

From Geekwire by Alan Boyle & Taylor Soper

Amazon is asking the Federal Communications Commission for approval of its Project Kuiper satellite broadband venture, and referring to potential synergies with Amazon Web Services as a strong selling point.

GeekWire first reported news of Project Kuiper in April, when Amazon revealed plans to put more than 3,200 satellites in low Earth orbit for global broadband coverage.
That revelation was contained in documents that were filed with the International Telecommunication Union.
On Thursday, Amazon’s wholly owned Kuiper Systems subsidiary followed up with a fresh set of FCC filings.

 Satellites could extend cloud computing to the final frontier.
"The Kuiper System covers the area between 56°N and 56°S latitudes," the Amazon subsidiary told the FCC. "Accordingly, customers throughout [the] continental US, Hawaii, and all US territories will have access to Kuiper System services. So too will customers in many other countries within the coverage area. The Kuiper System will not provide FSS [fixed-satellite service] in the majority of Alaska, however, because the state's high latitude is outside of the coverage area."
Amazon is the latest in a string of companies with plans to use a network of thousands of satellites to offer broadband around the world.
Unlike traditional satellite internet, these plans involve the use of satellites in low Earth orbit, which can be operated cheaply and with lower latencies. SpaceX has plans to launch as many as 12,000 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation, OneWeb wants to launch 650 satellites, and Facebook is also developing an internet satellite of its own.
Lockheed Martin illustration

The filings confirm that the project would consist of 3,236 satellites in 98 orbital planes, at altitudes ranging between 366 and 391 miles (590 and 630 kilometers).
“Amazon’s mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, and the Kuiper System is one of our ambitious projects to fulfill this mission,” the application reads.
“The Kuiper System will deliver satellite broadband communications services to tens of millions of unserved and underserved consumers and businesses in the United States and around the globe.”

In the filings, Kuiper Systems cites studies showing that 3.8 billion people around the world lack reliable broadband service, and that 21.3 million Americans don’t have access to fixed broadband.

Last month, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos emphasized the rationale for the risky project during a fireside chat at the company’s Amazon’s inaugural re:MARS conference.
“The goal here is broadband everywhere,” Bezos said.

Kuiper Systems’ application says the satellite system would take advantage of the Seattle tech giant’s expertise in providing consumer services, as well as the ground-based infrastructure that’s been built for Amazon Web Services:
“Amazon sells products and services to hundreds of millions of customers today via physical and online stores, entertainment content streaming, design and manufacturing of consumer electronics devices, and leading public cloud computing web services.
Amazon also has global terrestrial networking and compute infrastructure required for the Kuiper System, including intercontinental fiber links, data centers, compute/edge compute capabilities and the tools, techniques, and know-how to securely and efficiently transport data.”

The application says “Amazon will leverage its resources and capabilities to develop, implement and interconnect the Kuiper System and terrestrial networks to delight customers.”
Such statements seem to suggest links between Kuiper and other lines of business ranging from online sales to cloud services and video streaming.

Other companies besides Amazon have big satellite ambitions as well: SpaceX, for example, has begun deploying satellites in low Earth orbit, or LEO, for its Starlink broadband constellation.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said earlier this year that the revenue from Starlink could amount to $30 billion or more annually.
OneWeb, Telesat and LeoSat Technologies also have plans for providing broadband via LEO satellites.
That’s led some experts to wonder how many mega-constellations the world needs, and how many satellites the night sky can handle.

In fact, the FCC filings acknowledge that Project Kuiper’s satellites would have to play nice with other companies’ satellites when it comes to sharing broadcast spectrum and avoiding interference.
Kuiper intends to use Ka-band radio frequencies, including a part of the spectrum that Iridium is already using for its next-generation telecom satellite constellation.

Kuiper Systems’ filings note that the FCC has laid out procedures for different companies to share spectrum, and so the venture is seeking waivers from the agency to proceed with systems and procedures that would address interference concerns.
It’s also seeking a waiver from an FCC requirement to serve all of the United States and its territories, on the grounds that parts of Alaska are too far north to get satellite reception from Kuiper’s constellation.

In its technical analysis, Kuiper Systems says it can start offering satellite broadband service once it finishes the first of five phases of deployment by putting 578 satellites in their proper orbits.
Like SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, Kuiper’s satellites would be launched into lower orbits at first, and then have those orbits raised once they’re checked out.

The filings don’t go into detail about Project Kuiper’s satellite design, but they do say the spacecraft would use phased-array antennas to produce “steerable and shapeable” beams.
The satellites would use an “unpressurized, non-explosive propellant” for safety’s sake.
And to address concerns about orbital debris, the satellites would be designed to deorbit themselves in less than 10 years, even if they fall out of contact with ground controllers.

There’s no mention of when Kuiper’s satellites would be launched, or which company would launch them.
Bezos’ privately held space venture, Blue Origin, could conceivably take on the job — but that could get tricky, because publicly traded Amazon would have to guard against conflicts of interest.

The filings confirm that Rajeev Badyal, the satellite engineer who once led SpaceX’s Starlink effort but was reportedly fired last year, is the president and manager of Kuiper Systems.
And although most of the jobs listed for Project Kuiper are in Bellevue, Wash., the headquarters for Kuiper Systems is listed as 410 Terry Ave. N. in Seattle’s South Lake Union district — which is Amazon’s headquarters building.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The multinational story behind the Grace1

A British Royal Navy patrol vessel guards the oil supertanker Grace 1, that’s on suspicion of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria, as it sits anchored in waters of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, July 4, 2019.

From Windward by Omer Primor

Panamanian flag, Singaporean manager, Iranian oil: six words and three countries that tell the multinational story of the Grace 1, the oil tanker detained in Gibraltar by the UK earlier this week for violating EU sanctions.
Less than 24 hours later, Tehran admitted being the real owner of the vessel carrying some two million barrels of sanctioned, Iranian oil, disguised as being of Iraqi origin.

The supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar, on July 6, 2019.

But the case of the Grace 1 is about more than just Iran.
It goes to the heart of the challenges of enforcing sanctions today.
The rules of the game have changed, and those attempting to evade sanctions are increasingly doing so using “innocent” ships.
Gone are the days of sanctioned trade being carried by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), or by vessels flying the North Korean flag.
In the past 60 days, Iranian-flagged tankers made less than a handful of port calls outside their home country.
North Korean tankers had none.

Ties to Iran

So what exactly were the Grace 1’s ties to Iran? Investigating its ownership would lead nowhere.
According to Equasis, it is owned and managed by Singaporean companies, its real, beneficial owner remains unknown, passing screening against databases of sanctioned entities (such as SDN lists) and rules relating to the country of registration.

Grace 1 Ownership Details. Source: Equasis

Ownership databases also show a connection between the Grace 1’s registered owner and manager: both are listed under the same address in Singapore.
In fact, the two share contact information with three other companies, each listed as a registered owner of a ship managed by the same manager.

Going beyond ownership to investigate the vessel’s port calls and historical locations would also lead to a dead end.
The Grace 1 was last detected in port almost two years ago, in Qingdao, China.
Since then, it’s been operating continuously at sea; any port calls it may have made have been masked by turning off its mandatory AIS transmissions.

The Grace 1’s recent history of port calls: Source: Windward

Grace 1 of Many

What’s perhaps even more troubling is that the Grace 1 isn’t alone.
In May, 19 crude oil tankers (3% of all crude tankers operating in the Gulf) went dark while operating in the area, behavior indicative of sanctions evasion.
While eight of those were Iranian flagged and obviously a no-go for trade, the other 11 aren’t as easy to screen: seven were Panamanian, two Liberian and two Vietnamese.
None of them is registered by an Iranian Company or made port calls in Iran, making them almost impossible to detect using existing vessel tracking and list-based screening.

Image showing 18 dark activities by the 11 tankers in May.
Source: Windward

What’s more, these 11 tankers went on to make 68 ship-to-ship meetings offshore Fujairah, in the UAE, in May-June.
There, they received logistical support and transhipped cargoes to other tankers.
In one incident, a crude carrier picked up cargo from the Grace 1 offshore Fujairah and carried it to Singapore, very possibly without knowing cargo’s origin.

Image showing 68 ship-to-ship meeting offshore Fujairah in May -June by the 11 tankers.
Source: Windward

As with the recent case of the Pacific Bravo, the use of front companies, transshipments, dark operations, and identity changes creates new risks for the entire maritime supply chain – ports and terminals, traders, bunkering services providers, financial institutions, and even governments – which are now required by OFAC to go beyond existing vessel tracking and list-based screening.

Shipping has always been a complex industry.
Tax structures and other considerations dictate the use of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for ownership of every vessel.
It’s clear the vast majority of players aren’t interested in trading in sanctioned cargoes.
However, at a time when the business climate is becoming increasingly complex, and with so much attention on every ship movement and every cargo, many companies are left wondering how should they implement these new regulations – especially when existing compliance controls are losing their effectiveness at a rate of knots.

Refinitiv Oil Research has been tracking the Iranian VLCC Grace1
. She departed Iran on 17/04 and remained floating off UAE for 23 days before departing on 13/05. With no access to SUMED she had to pass around the Cape

source : Refinitiv

Grace 1 tanker movement between Iraq, Iran and the UAE
source : CTRM center

Business as Usual

So what can the maritime ecosystem do in order to keep business running as usual? The strongest signals indicating vessels may be violating sanctions come from behavioral analysis.
For the Grace 1, the signs have been there for at least six months – almost coinciding with the November reimposition of sanctions by the U.S.
For example, from mid-December 2018 to mid-January 2019 the ship anchored offshore Asaluyeh, Iran.
In April, it went dark for 10 days near Bushehr, also in Iran.

Image showing the Grace I anchored offshore Asaluyeh, Iran, 
for a month, Jan. 2019.
Source: Windward

Behavioral analytics is key to effectively screening against vessels potentially engaged in sanctions evasion.
Even the best tools that screen against lists, port calls and ownership data fall short when they come up against today’s elaborate schemes employed by those interested in evading sanctions.

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